Tom English

BBC Scotland's chief sports writer

Analysis and opinion from BBC Scotland's chief sports writer

About Tom

Tom is BBC Scotland's chief sports writer. He is a... Read more about Tom English six-time winner of the Scottish feature writer of the year award and has twice won Rugby Book of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards. His columns and radio documentaries have been short-listed for media prizes in Scotland and the UK.

He has been a sports journalist for 25 years, the highlight being an afternoon spent with former world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. He joined BBC Scotland in 2014 and writes and broadcasts on many different sports.

Gregor Townsend

'Scotland floundering in fantasyland'

Read full article on 'Gregor Townsend's soft-touch Scotland floundering in fantasyland'

There was something impossibly grim and hopelessly familiar about Scotland's latest shellacking under Gregor Townsend. Five tries conceded against France in Nice. Five tries conceded against England at Twickenham. Ten tries shipped in two Tests. In 2019, the Scots have conceded an average of four tries per game.

The PR around this team is that this is a squad of players who are on the cusp of a long-awaited breakthrough. The reality is that they're a soft touch and, away from home, they're only getting softer. The lack of leadership on the field and the lack of an alternative plan from the coach's box is a deep concern.

Callum McGregor

'Celtic now a European irrelevance'

Read full article on Celtic's worsening Champions League record makes grim reading after CFR Cluj win in Glasgow

Listening to Dan Petrescu in the minutes before kick-off at Celtic Park on Tuesday evening the temptation was to get out the violin and play a soft lament for the mournful CFR Cluj manager.

Having previously love-bombed Celtic for their fans, their history, their wealth and their potential - he said they could one day do what Ajax did last season in making the Champions League semi-final - the Romanian double downed on the poor mouth routine.

Kieran Tierney has left Celtic for a Scottish record transfer fee

'Celtic get good deal but lose a bit of heart'

Read full article on Kieran Tierney: Celtic gain record fee from Arsenal but 'lose a bit of heart'

When Kieran Tierney settles into life in the Premier League with its riches and its glamour and its global appeal, it would be easy to assume that his life's ambition had been met. Easy but wrong.

Of course Tierney wants to test himself against the best. Of course he wants to go up against the behemoths, the Mo Salahs, the Sergio Agueros, the Harry Kanes, and with that profile comes wealth on a scale that would have been unimaginable to him even a few years ago. A rumoured weekly salary of £75,000 at Arsenal makes an annual wage of almost £4m not counting bonuses. For a young man who lives quietly and modestly, this is utterly life changing.

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard's Rangers may improve but it's Celtic title to lose

Read full article on Rangers may improve but Celtic remain huge obstacle for Steven Gerrard

On Friday Steven Gerrard presented an alternative take on the events of last season's Scottish Premiership campaign. He spoke about the wastefulness of his team late in games, their tendency to get caught out in the dying moments.

Three points became one against Aberdeen in the 90th minute, three points became one against Motherwell also in the 90th minute. They were winning against Hibernian but a victory became a draw in the 86th minute. They were drawing against Celtic but one point became no points, again in the 86th minute.

Neil Lennon

'Celtic have room for improvement'

Read full article on 'Celtic's room for improvement under Neil Lennon spells trouble for rest'

If you were to rank Celtic's eight Premiership titles in order of quality, where would last season's victory fit in? In points terms, it was only their fifth highest total of the leagues they have won on their imperious run. In terms of goals scored, it ranks seventh.

The answer to the question? If you asked it outside Parkhead on Saturday as the season begins anew, you're likely to hear a variety of comments tied together in a similar theme. "Where does it rank? Who gives a stuff! All that matters is nine and 10".

Cosgrove, seagull, Alessio

The A to Z of the new Scottish season

Read full article on Gerrard, Lennon, Morelos, Cosgrove, Alessio - the A to Z of the new Scottish season

Around this time last year, as a kind of curtain-raiser to all the things that were about to happen in Scottish football in the months ahead, a decapitated pigeon fell out of the sky above Hampden and crashed to earth as Queen's Park were playing St Mirren in the League Cup.

It seems that some players gathered around the unfortunate bird and then stared to the heavens in bewilderment in an attempt to figure out how the hell it lost its head.

Angelo Alessio, Shelley Kerr, Steve Clarke and Rod Petrie

Wishes for the Scottish football season

Read full article on Angelo Alessio, Shelley Kerr & Steve Clarke - wishes for the new season

It's worth taking stock of where we're at with Scottish football right now. In the season just gone, Andy Robertson won a Champions League with Liverpool and reinforced his status as a darling of the Anfield crowd. Alongside him, Virgil van Dijk, a player who cheerily talks about the influence his Celtic years had on him, reinforced his claim to be the world's leading centre-half.

Ryan Fraser was one of the Premier League's most coruscating attacking talents. Scott McTominay broke into the Manchester United team. Norwich fans saluted Kenny McLean as they won promotion to the Premier League.

Ross Ford (centre) in action for the Lions

The model Lion who needed more bite

Read full article on Ross Ford: Record-breaking Scotland career tinged with what might have been

To look at him that day in summer 2017, you wouldn't have thought for one second that Ross Ford, cool as a breeze, was about to rewrite the Scottish rugby record books once more.

Three years earlier, he had bypassed Gordon Bulloch to become his country's most capped hooker of all time. A year later, he overtook Scott Murray to become Scotland's most capped forward. And now, in the heat of Fiji, he was to usurp Chris Paterson to become the nation's most capped player with 110 Tests to his name.

Steve Clarke

People's choice Clarke knows he has much to do

Read full article on Scotland: People's choice Steve Clarke knows he has much to do

When things were looking hairy at Hampden on Saturday, Steve Clarke may have picked up on little moments of disquiet among the home support, a brief bout of booing at the end of a tepid opening half and some angst-ridden roars when calamitous defending threatened to destroy his opening night as Scotland head coach.

Like the visitors' defence, two decades of despondency is a hard thing to break down. The frustration wasn't so much directed at Clarke and his players, it was an age-old weariness that has been building up over time. Fans are fed up of failure. They can sniff it a mile off. Patience is in short supply.

Steve Clarke

'Clarke immediately boosts Scottish hopes'

Read full article on Steve Clarke appointment immediately boosts Scotland's hopes

If you're going to put together a fantasy team from the players the new Scotland head coach Steve Clarke has coached in his lifetime then you might want to set aside a few hours because the options are a little bit scary.

There's a point to this, a reason why we're running through the stellar names that Clarke has been out on the coaching pitch with in his days as assistant at Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool and as manager of West Brom. We'll come to that reason shortly, but for now let's indulge ourselves in his star-studded past.